I am living the dream. Well, my dream at least. I’m wife to the love of my life and stay-at-home-mummy to three gorgeous girls. But I know now what I didn’t know way back then: that being a full-time home-maker and mummy is hard work. Jolly. Hard. Work. And that making the meal magic happen in the kitchen three times a day, seven days a week, is one of the most challenging parts of my everyday.
Working out how and what to feed my family has not come naturally to me. I’ve had to fumble around and learn the ropes the hard way, particularly since having children and navigating their nutritional requirements and fussy quirks at the table. Annabel Karmel introduced me to the concept of planning meals weeks in one of her books on weaning babies onto solids. Pinterest enlightened me further by informing me that I could meal plan for a whole family, and save time and money in the process. A near brush with gestational diabetes helped me streamline my food choices and work out my own family food philosophy. And the various books and blogs that I’ve read and followed since have all informed my choices as I work to feed my family well without blowing the budget.
Truth be told, although I know meal planning is key to making my week flow well, I’ve had a love-hate thing going on with it thus far. I passive-agressive resented the length of time it would take me to work out what to feed my family for any given week, work out what to buy and where to buy it from around life with little people. So I’d put it off as long as I could (i.e. till our cupboards were empty and I had a mutiny on my hands), only to panic, make a bad plan and embark on a speedy shop that would inevitably cost more money than it should.
This year though, I stumbled across one simple meal-planing tip that has radically streamline my meal planning process and make the whole “feeding my family” gig a tonne easier. So much easier, that I had to share it.
And the tip was this – drumroll please:
Make a list of the meals YOUR family enjoys, and use that to help plan your meals.
Simple. But utterly game-changing.
Because cookbooks are great, and the millions of dreamy food pins on Pinterest are super inspiring. But frankly, the agony of choice can sometimes complicate matters. And trying to reinvent the wheel every week is exhausting.
So instead of looking “out there” for ideas and inspiration, I’ve realised that it is simpler to formalise what I know about feeding my own family, and use that as my launchpad going forwards.
This month I sat down and made a go-to list of all the meals my family enjoys, split into categories that reflect the way we eat. When it’s time to plan a new menu, I check what’s left in our fridge, freezer and pantry, scan through my go-to meals list, and scribble down one week’s worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas that best suit our week, schedule and my temperament. I’ll be tweaking this every few months or so as I know life with little people requires updates and flexibility. But for now, this is us.
If like me you find feeding your family overwhelming at times, my number one recommendation is this – make your own list of go-to meals. Aim for 15 meals. You’ll probably find you can double that without trying to hard. And then schedule a time to plan your meals. Same time every week. Give yourself 30-45 minutes to fill in the blanks around your schedule, check your kitchen supplies and make a shopping list. And then put it all aside and do something you enjoy. Simple.
So there you go. One simple change that is reaping huge rewards for me and my family.
Do you have any great tips for simplifying meal planning? As always do let me know in the comments box below. I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
- Our go-to family meals, sides and breakfasts
- Our go to snacks, treats and puddings (for kids and grown ups)
- Why I followed a low GI diet when pregnant